Publication details [#3666]

Corts, Daniel P. 2006. Factors characterizing bursts of figurative language and gesture in college lectures. Discourse Studies 8 (2) : 211–233. 23 pp.


In an analysis of three college lectures, Corts and Pollio (1999) found that figurative language and gesture often appeared together in 'bursts'. These bursts were initially characterized as novel figurative expression that centered on the primary topic of the lecture. The current study is an attempt to provide clearer description of how and why figurative language and gesture so often appear together in academic discourse. In addition, this study extends earlier findings to additional speakers and academic disciplines to improve generalizability. In accordance with Corts and Pollio, the bursts of figurative activity are predominately novel rather than cliched, coherent with a root metaphor, and centered around the main topics of the lecture. The present study adds that figures within bursts largely include analogies and metaphor that represent a concept whereas topical figures outside of bursts are descriptive phrases that often include other types of figures such as hyperbole, litote, etc. The regularity of such bursts suggests that they serve an important cognitive function independent of personal style of the lecturer or any demands of a particular academic field. (LLBA, Accession Number 200611463, (c) CSA [2007]. All rights reserved.)